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17 May, 2022
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my child refuses to eat

My Child Refuses To Eat! – H&S Education & Parenting

My Child Refuses To Eat: 10 Reasons Why & What You Can Do To Help!
my child refuses to eat

Parents always want to ensure that their child is eating a balanced diet and getting the right amount of nutrients from the food. However, as parents, you need to understand that a child’s appetite is not always reliable. A child can be picky about what he/she wants to eat and, many a time, will refuse to eat at all and as stressful & frustrating it may seem, ‘food refusal’ is absolutely normal!

It is therefore important for parents to know of the different reasons as to why a child might refuse to eat, and how they can fix this problem. Below are the 5 most common reasons why a child might refuse to eat and how parents can help overcome these obstacles.

10 Common Reasons Why Your Child Might Be Refusing To Eat:

1. Your child feels pressured- If you are hovering above your child and are an anxious parent during mealtime, your child will sense it and as they are expected to finish the plate every time, they too might become anxious and refuse to eat.

Solution- Focus on your own meal and let them be just another person doing their thing on the table. Allowing your child to eat at their own pace is the best solution. Yes, give them a variety of food but in manageable portions and allow them to be in charge of what they eat, if they eat at all.

2. When it comes to meal time, your child has no say- As a parent you are in charge of what you serve, where you serve it and when you serve it. Your child should be in charge of whether they eat and how much they eat.

Solution- Include them in meal prep, for example, if you are preparing a salad let them pick the veggies and let them mix, or let them help you set the table. Stick with the rule: You’re in charge of what, when and where, whilst your child is in charge of whether he/she eats and how much he/she eats.

3. Your child is bored- Are you serving the same food regularly, the same way? If yes, then no wonder your child is bored and refuses to eat.

Solution- Get creative & experiment to see what your child loves the best.

4. Your child’s simply not hungry- This is a common reason as to why a child might refuse to eat.

Solution- Play your role & have set mealtime boundaries, but as mentioned earlier, let your child be in charge of whether he/she eats and how much he/she eats. So if your child is not hungry then simply accept that they’re not hungry!

5. There’s distraction- If you are allowing screen time whilst dinner time, then you can’t blame the child for being distracted on the phone or TV.

Solution- Keep all distractions away, which means no toys, no screen time during dinner time.

6. The Portions are too big- As you are in charge of how much & what you serve, just because you think it’s enough, it doesn’t mean it is. It could be a massive portion from the child’s perspective.

Solution- Reduce the portion size, but make sure your child gets a balanced meal, focus on quality rather than quantity!

7. Your child’s unwell or has a medical reason affecting his/her ability to eat- Even as adults, if you are sick, you tend to lose appetite, the same rule applies for kids. Another possible reason could be that it hurts to swallow, or every time he/she eats it is uncomfortable.

Solution- Don’t force your child to eat when they’re unwell, always consult the paediatrician, & keep an eye on hydration! If your child has a medical reason that is affecting their ability to eat, this needs to be investigated by a paediatrician.

8. Too many fluids (milk or juice)

Solution- During meal times, the only fluid that should be given is water. No milk or juice should be given with food.

9. There are too many snacks- If you have given them too many snacks throughout the day, the chances are they’re full.

Solution- Establish a structure around snack time & stick to 1 or 2 healthy snacks such as yoghurt, fruit or cheese and crackers.

10. Your child’s exhausted- If your child is sleepy or tired, he/she may refuse to eat.

Solution- Make sure your child has had good rest and is not tired or sleepy, as this could affect his eating habit.



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